How to prevent the flu
How to Fight a Flu Naturally
Flu is a common illness, especially during the colder seasons when the infection tends to spread. You may think all is going well, and there come the first symptoms: congested nose, cough, fever, headaches and sore muscles. It’s little relief to know that these are signs that your immune system is responding appropriately and fighting the infection. Although there is no cure for the flu, there are many natural remedies you can use to relieve the symptoms and help your body in the healing process.
Taking Care of Your Body
Get enough rest.Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms. Sleeping longer hours and slowing down your activities will help your body focus on fighting the flu. Because your body is more exposed to contagion when fighting the flu, staying at home will also prevent the possibility of catching other infections.
- Keeping an extra pillow under your head when you lie down or sleep will provide some relief to your congested airways.
- While at home, spend as much time as possible lying in bed. Decrease your mobility to avoid wasting the energy your body needs to fight the infection.
Put a warm compress on your forehead and nose.Moisten a cloth with warm water or use a hot water bottle to relieve the pain. The heat will loosen the tension in your muscles and relieve cramps.
- If your muscles are sore, you can also apply the hot water bottle in the area to soothe the pain.
- Don’t do this before going to bed to avoid burning your skin while asleep.
Blow your nose regularly and gently.Blowing hard could cause a nosebleed and push germs into your ear passages, thus spreading the infection. In order to blow gently, press one nostril closed with your finger and blow softly to clear one at a time.
- Sniffing the mucus back into your nose is very bad for your airways. Always have soft paper tissues at hand to blow into whenever you need.
Take a steamy bath or shower.Humidity will open up your airways and speed up their decongestion, as well as bring some relief to muscular pain.
- If you feel too dizzy to take a shower, sit in your bathroom with the shower running and let the steam fill the room.
- You can also use a room humidifier to moisten the air: just clean it thoroughly before using it.
Breathe in steamy water with essential oils.This is another common home remedy to relieve nasal congestion. Essential oils like menthol, eucalyptus, camphor and ginger have properties that open the sinuses.To use them:
- Add 10 to 30 drops of the essential oils of your choice to a pot of boiling water.
- Place a towel over your head and lean over the pot, keeping your eyes closed and some distance from the water surface to avoid getting burnt.
- Take deep breaths with your nose and blow your nose regularly.
Irrigate your nose and mouth with a saline solution.The water will help you expel mucus from your mouth and throat while the salt will kill germs. Dissolving a teaspoon of salt in warm water and gargling the solution four times a day will provide some relief for a sore throat.For nasal irrigation, you can buy a saline spray or make it yourself if you have a neti pot or squeeze bottle: spray the solution into your nostrils to decongest the nasal passages.
- To make the solution at home, dissolve 2 or 3 teaspoons of salt and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda in 1 liter of warm water.
- It’s always better to use distilled or previously boiled water to make your own solution, to avoid introducing new germs to your system.
Consuming Nourishing Foods and Beverages
Drink a lot of water.This will keep your body hydrated, especially if the symptoms include vomiting or diarrhea. Water can also soothe your throat and make your mucus thinner, which facilitates its expulsion. Have at least eight cups a day.
- You can also drink orange juice: the vitamin C contained in it will strengthen your immune system;
- Drink hot beverages such as herbal tea or hot water with lemon. This will soothe your sore throat and open up your airways. Lemon is also a good disinfectant and some herbal teas will contain decongestants such as peppermint or ginger.
- If you have difficulty drinking because of stomach sickness, take small sips but keep drinking. Vomiting and diarrhea can both lead to severe dehydration if your water intake is not restored.
- Stay away from caffeine and alcohol, as they do not help hydration.
Eat food that contains vitamin C.Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an important nutrient for some cells of the immune system. Although it won’t relieve any flu symptoms, it will speed up recovery by fortifying cells that are involved in fighting the infection.Foods that are rich in vitamin C include oranges, lemons, limes, kiwifruit, papaya, leafy greens and bell peppers. You can eat the fruit or drink pure juices with no additives.
- Because vitamin C is a great support for your immune system, it should always be part of your diet as way to prevent infections.
Eat rice, bananas and carrots.Bananas contain vitamin B6 and carrots are rich in beta-carotene which, like vitamin C, are both important nutrients for your immune system. Rice is also a good source of carbohydrate that can boost your energy and it is especially recommended in case of diarrhea, as are bananas.
- These foods are also easy enough for your body to digest when you have intestinal symptoms or your appetite is low.
Have some chicken soup.This is a time-old home remedy. Not only does hot water relieve sore throat and steam decongest your airways, but the chicken also contains vitamin B6 and C as well as proteins that can boost your energy for recovery. To make a nourishing pot of soup:
- Boil a chicken in water with onion and celery for one hour.
- Remove the chicken or leave as much as you like.
- You can also add vegetables such as carrots and garlic, or curry and other spices that can help you expel mucus.
Spice up your food.Chili peppers are natural decongestants, and so is horseradish, which also speeds up your blood flow to infected areas to make your recovery quicker. Cayenne pepper contains vitamin C, ginger can reduce fever and encourage mucus expulsion by coughing, and garlic stimulates the cells in your immune system.
- Add these spices to your food or make a herbal infusion: cinnamon and ginger are very good in tea, while garlic and pepper can season your soup.
Taking Natural Medications
Take multivitamin tablets.This will increase your vitamin intake, especially if your appetite is low or you don’t feel like drinking juices. Some mixes might also include important minerals such as selenium, iron and zinc, which your immune system needs to better respond to the infection.
- Key vitamins that should be part of the mix are A, B6, C, D, E.
Take zinc lozenges.In many studies zinc has been shown effective in treating symptoms and decreasing the length of infection, rather than preventing future ones. You can purchase them at your local drugstore or health store.
- You can usually consume as much as one lozenge every two hours; however, read the recommended daily dose in the leaflet.
- If lozenges are not sold at your local store, zinc is found naturally in beef, beans, oatmeal and some types of bread.
Take herbs.There are many herbal medicines that are commonly sold at the health store which have been used for ages as natural flu reliefs. Even in this case, make sure you take the prescribed dose to avoid stomach discomfort or headaches. The ones below have been proven effective in boosting the immune system and acting as anti-inflammatories:
- Oregon Grape
- St. John's Wort
Try homeopathy.In this case, you should visit a specialized pharmacy, consult a guidebook or check if your local health store sells homeopathic remedies. Homeopathy should be avoided for children or infants with high fever (over 101 F), or infants below two months of age.Common remedies for flu relief are:
- Eupatorium perfoliatum
- Ferrum phosphonium
Consult your doctor if recovery takes longer than a week or symptoms become more severe.He or she might recommend other natural remedies or advise you to take non-natural medications or antibiotics to fight other related bacterial infections. Prolonged fever and pain might also be symptoms of some other condition which you have misdiagnosed as flu. You should especially see your family doctor if:
- you're over 65;
- you're pregnant;
- you suffer from a chronic condition like diabetes or kidney disease;
- your immune system is weak because of HIV, chemotherapy or immunosuppressants;
- you cough up blood or become short of breath;
- vomiting and diarrhea persist.
Video: CURE A COLD/FLU IN 24 HOURS - THIS NATURAL REMEDY WORKS!
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